Climate Action

Former Finland President Tarja Halonen calls for climate action on Earth Day

Finland is leading the charge on climate action. Last summer, the nation pledged to go carbon neutral by 2035, 15 years sooner than the targets set under the United Nations’ 2015 Paris Agreement.

But to reach such an ambitious target, and get others to follow, Finland can’t do it alone. We need collective mobilization to pressure leaders around the world into action. Former President of Finland Tarja Halonen, echoed these sentiments in a video address published online today.

“Everyone, everywhere, needs to be active and engaged in what is happening to our local and global environment,” said Halonen, a member of Earth Day Network’s Global Advisory Committee.

In the three-minute video, Halonen called for action in 2020, specifically centered around the 50th anniversary of Earth Day on April 22. Connecting the first Earth Day, when 20 million young people took to the streets, to the youth climate movement of today, Halonen highlighted the far-reaching range of participants needed for Earth Day 2020.

“It is important for everyone from every country and every walk of life to stand up again and support the youth of today as they call for stepped-up ambition from governments but also cities, companies and fellow citizens to avert challenges many scientists consider are reaching crisis levels,” she said.

The year 2020 not only marks the 50th anniversary of Earth Day; it also marks the 10-year countdown to 2030 — the time we have to halve our global emissions to prevent a climate catastrophe, according to the U.N. special report on 1.5 degrees on warming.

2020 is also a big election year, with 65 major elections taking place around the globe, including the United States presidential election. We must use our vote to support politicians that take climate change seriously. Otherwise, we will only accelerate our journey toward an uninhabitable Earth — one with dramatic species loss, more frequent extreme weather events and immeasurable human suffering.

We must do anything and everything we can to avoid this, including, as Halonen states, joining Earth Day initiatives, like The Great Global Cleanup, the citizen-science initiative Earth Challenge 2020 and the food and environmental campaign Foodprints for the Future.

And of course, on Earth Day, April 22, take to the streets and stand up in defense of the planet. Find an event or register one today.

“Together we have the power to change the world for the better,” said Halonen. “2020 Earth Day is the moment to show this.”

Photo at top: Tarja Halonen addresses the general debate of the sixty-fourth session of the United Nations General Assembly. Photo credit: UN Photo/Erin Siegal